Mon January 31, 2011
The Two-Way

Egypt's Protests; Day Seven: Anti-Mubarak Demonstrators Stay Put

Thousands of protesters who want Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down are in Cairo's Tahrir Square again today, as the demonstrations that have rocked that nation are in their seventh day. As NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reported for Morning Edition, the most populous Arab nation has been turned "on its head" by the crisis.

We'll keep following the news from Egypt as the day continues. Click your "refresh" button to make sure you're seeing any updates.

Update at 1:30 p.m. ET. Army "Will Not Use Force Against The People," State TV says:

The BBC reports that "while asserting that it 'will not use force against the people,' the Egyptian army has also warned against 'the carrying out of any act that destabilises the security of the country,' according to state television." Reuters has also moved an "alert" about the Army's statement.

As we said Saturday, how the Army reacts to events is critical.

Update at 12:45 p.m. ET: The people in Tahrir Square are a diverse group, says NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro. "We've seen older members of the faculty at universities, dentists, doctors, laborers," she says. "There's a real cross section of society here that has converged on this square, from different backgrounds. The one unifying idea is that they want Hosni Mubarak out":

Update at 11:25 a.m. ET. From Cairo, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports that as Mubarak's new Cabinet takes their seats, the key has been appointment of a new minister of Interior:

"The new minister, Mahmoud Wagdi, is the former head of criminal investigations. He's said to have had tense relations with his predecessor, Habib el-Adly, whose departure has been a key demand of protesters. The Interior Ministry oversees the police and security forces dreaded by many Egyptians, who claim those forces operate with impunity. Whether the change in ministers will be enough to appease demonstrators seems unlikely, however."

Update at 11:13 a.m. ET. CNN's Nick Robertson writes on Twitter:

"Several thousand people joined in prayer as sun set in #Alexandria Martyr Square, one of many demos defying curfew."

Update at 11:10 a.m. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who is in Cairo and spent today at Tahrir Square, tweets that:

"I think Mubarak either oversees a bloody crackdown, and army obeys (neither certain, both possible)—or he's out."

Update at 11 a.m. ET: NPR's Andy Carvin, who previously wrote for us about how to follow events in Egypt on Twitter, has put together a Twitter list of valuable contributors. You can follow it here.

Update at 10:10 a.m. ET. The Associated Press adds this video report:

Update at 9:10 a.m. ET. American Evacuation: "The first of two charter planes carrying U.S. citizens out of chaotic Egypt landed Monday in Cyprus, the beginning of what could be a lengthy evacuation effort amid escalating unrest across the country," CNN reports.

Update at 8:55 a.m. ET: Al Jazeera now says that its six journalists who were detained by authorities earlier today in Cairo have been released. Their equipment was confiscated, the network adds.

Update at 8:45 a.m. ET. From Cairo, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro says "we've seen as the day [continued] more and more people" converge on Tahrir Square. "The basic message, as it has been consistently for the past seven days — 'we want Hosni Mubarak to go.' No changes that Mr. Mubarak takes will appease them, they say. The only thing that will satisfy them is his departure from office":

Update at 8:15 a.m. ET: Al Jazeera says six of its journalists in Cairo have been arrested by authorities.

The network continues to live-blog here and to stream its English broadcast here.

7:25 a.m. ET (when we started this post): Here's a quick look at some of what's being reported at this hour:

— "Egyptian protesters have called for a massive demonstration on Tuesday in a bid to force out president Hosni Mubarak from power," Al Jazeera says. Organizers hope to have "more than a million people on the streets of the capital Cairo, as anti-government sentiment reaches a fever pitch."

— The Associated Press says that "the coalition of groups, dominated by youth movements but including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, said it wants the march from Tahrir, or Liberation Square, to force Mubarak to step down by Friday. Spokesmen for several of the groups said their representatives were meeting Monday afternoon to develop a unified strategy for ousting Mubarak. The committee will also discuss whether Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei will be named as a spokesman for the protesters, they said. ElBaradei, a pro-democracy advocate and former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, invigorated anti-Mubarak feeling with his return to Egypt last year."

— The BBC reports that its correspondents "say all the signs continue to suggest that the only change the protesters will settle for is Mr Mubarak's removal from office. Meanwhile, Moodys Investor Services has downgraded Egypt's bond rating and changed its outlook from stable to negative, following a similar move by Fitch Ratings last week. Both cited the political crisis."

— Also on Morning Edition:

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Novarro said the protesters in Tahrir Square are determined to stay until Mubarak goes. But "they're not anointing anyone" as the next leader of Egypt, she told ME host Steve Inskeep.

NPR's Michele Kelemen, who covers the State Department, said the Obama administration "knows what it doesn't want — it doesn't want a political vacuum" in Egypt and "it doesn't want anything that the U.S. does to backfire. So we've seen this administration's position changing, but quite carefully." The current position: The U.S. wants to see an "orderly transition" to democracy. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.